tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 14, 2009 11:00pm-12:00am EST
program. that was nine years ago. three years ago, in 2006, when he was being challenged from the left in a primary in his home state by ned lamont, mr. leash liebermann supported expanding medicare then as well. three months ago, he talked about that campaign stance favorably when he was asked about it by the connecticut post. this video obtained from the "connecticut post" by reporter greg sergeant today. >> when it came to medicare, i was very focused on a group post-50, maybe more like post-55, people who have retired early or unfortunately who have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they're too young to qualify for medicare. and what i was proposing is that they have an option to buy into medicare early. and again, on the premise that that would be less expensive. >> an option to buy into medicare.
the medicare buy-in is, essentially, a trademarked joe lieberman policy idea. it's an idea he's promoted and explained and campaigned on repeatedly. expand medicare by allowing people younger than 65 to buy into it. this is the thing for which liberals were asked to trade away the public option. get joe lieberman on board, supporting health reform, by killing the public option and replacing it with something joe lieberman likes, expanding medicare. surprise, joe lieberman's now against expanding medicare, all of a sudden. so against it, in fact, that he's not only going to vote no on any bill that expands medicare, he promises to filibuster and block anyone else from voting on any bill that expands medicare. which, don't forget, was his idea. and the more you look at the details of this, the worse and weirder it gets. last week when senate democrats announced they had reached a broad agreement and the idea of a medicare buy-in was reported to be included in that, here's how senator lieberman responded. >> which way are you going to go on this?
>> good to be here. well, the direct answer is, joe doesn't know, because joe doesn't know -- nor do most other members of the democratic caucus -- know what's in the compromised proposals that came out of the group of ten senators that senator reid sent to the congressional budget office. the announcement, really, is that i don't know how anybody can decide until you see the actual language of these compromised proposals. >> joe knows that joe can't decide until he sees the congressional budget office score. senator lieberman wasn't exactly warm to the compromise, but he at least committed to waiting to pass judgment on it until he knew what the financial costs of it would be. that was what he said on thursday. three days later, on sunday, senator lieberman decided even that didn't matter to him anymore. three days after saying he would wait to hear what the cbo said, after saying everyone should wait to see what the cbo said, he decided he didn't care what the cbo said. he was against it already, no
matter what. >> on one part of it, the so-called medicare buy-in, the opposition to it has been growing as the week has gone on. >> what do you have to do to do that? >> you've got to take out the medicare buy-in. >> got to take out the medicare buy-in i have been proposing for years. and mr. lieberman is not only against his own trademarked health policy idea, he's not only not waiting for the cbo score that he once held up as a necessary precursor to any judgment on the bill. senator lieberman is now promising to kill the entire bill if that provision remains in it. and tonight, he appears to be winning. again, said mr. lieberman a short time ago, and i quote, put me down tonight as encouraged about the direction these talks are going. joining us now is democratic senator ron wyden of oregon. he's a member of the senate finance committee. senator wyden, it's good to see you. thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, rachel. >> i know it's uncomfortable for senators to sit through somebody else criticizing other senators,
so i realize this isn't the easiest discussion to have. but i have to ask you, if what my take is on senator lieberman's position seems right to you. am i getting any of this wrong? >> listen, it's obvious that he is looking at this proposal, he has mixed feelings about it. but this cake is far from baked. we are waiting now from the congressional budget office, their positions. i think we ought to send a message to progressives all across the country, let's keep fighting. we want to turn the tables on the insurance lobby. i've been working on this since before you were born. it's hard for me to admit it. i was co-director of the gray panthers, insurance companies were ripping people off then, they are still doing it. and democrats in our caucus are going to stay at it until we get real reform. >> i know you were in the closed-door meeting tonight among senate democrats on capitol hill. can you tell us about what the strategy is, either of the leadership or of the caucus as a whole moving forward? >> it was a very powerful session. senators walked into that room, knowing that folks at the grassroots level are counting on
us. they're counting on us to really get health reform right. single moms from portland, oregon, to portland, maine, who go to bed at night in a cold sweat want to know, for example, that insurance companies can't cancel them if they get sick. they want to make sure that there's real competition, that there's real choice, that there's a way to hold those insurers accountable. i think it's the view of the caucus that what we need to do is lay a strong foundation, a foundation that we can build on in the years ahead. we are not going to get everything that we want in round one, but we're going to get a foundation that we can build on in the years ahead. >> if what is passed, if what you can get done politically right now is no public option and no expansion of medicare, so, essentially, while private insurance will be reformed, americans will be forced through the mandate to buy private insurance. if that is what can be done in round one, is there not a risk that americans will be so
aggravated by being forced to spend money on the private insurance industry, that we all feel is ripping us off, that there will be no political capital left to go back to the health care reform well again. >> we all have to make health coverage affordable. i'm particularly concerned about the years before 2014 when the bill kicks in. so i've suggested that that insurance premium fee, it's about $6.7 billion, it be adjusted. if insurance companies hold their premiums down, they wouldn't pay as much tax. if they don't, they'd pay more tax. so you bet, we need to take additional steps to make coverage more affordable, to offer more choice, and senator reid made it clear tonight that he's open to good ideas that can help us get the votes we need to pass reform. >> is there going to be any competition for private health insurance companies? >> we're going to make a start here. i believe that the proposal with the office of personnel
management, this is the proposal that's modelled after members of congress, if we can make sure that folks across the country have a wide array of choices the way members of congress do, we can get folks into big groups, groups with a lot of healthy people, so there's not the adverse selection that jacks up premiums, we can make a start and start particularly with insurance reform. >> i can tell the contrast between when you and i have talked about what's possible on health reform today versus what we've talked about in previous days. and i realize that there's still, to get anything is still going to be a big public push from the democrats. if what's possible right now has become so limited, because of the opposition of conservatives within the democratic caucus, does it make sense to use reconciliation, which would require only 51 votes, not 60, but would probably make the process take longer and would require it to be revisited in five years. >> first of all, with reconciliation, you can't get any of the insurance reforms. reconciliation deals with budget matters. so you can't get the protection for folks from pre-existing conditions. you can't protect them from cancellations.
you can't even get the exchanges up and running. let's make sure folks know what we are going to get. we're going to get 30 million people covered. we're going to get these insurance reforms, lifetime limit protections. we're going to get a real foundation. i don't want people across the country, activists who have worked for months and months to understand that we are getting everything we have sought. but i think we are getting enough to say this is a foundation, and we'll be able to send a message that their hard work has paid off. >> is there anything likely to go into effect in 2010? >> i want to make sure, for example, that protection, with respect to pre-existing conditions, that that goes into effect. we're going to have a minimum, a reassurance pool so that those protections get in place quickly. >> senator ron wyden of oregon, thank you for coming in. today it's health reform, tomorrow, who knows what crucial legislation will get whacked with a filibuster by joe
liebermann, maybe or some future liebermann. is it time to take away that legislative stick. should the rules of the senate be changed to stop one senator from seizing this much country changing power? that issue is next. plus, in seven states, it is illegal to hold public office if you are an atheist. seven states in the united states of america, in the 2000s, yes, currently. one newly elected official is having his job threatened because he doesn't believe in god. (announcer) here's hoping you find something special in your driveway this holiday. ho, ho, ho! (announcer) get an exceptional offer on the mercedes benz you've always wanted at the winter event going on now. but hurry - the offer ends january 4th. you've always wanted at the winter event going on now. let the all-new campbellskitchen.com
help bring your family to the table this holiday. from timeless favorites like campbell's green bean casserole to new classics like swanson herb roasted turkey with pan gravy and pepperidge farm holiday brie en croute even clever ideas that give leftovers a full makeover. for inspiration, family pleasing recipes and 15 dollars in valuable coupons, explore the all-new campbellskitchen.com for a very happy holiday. for a couple months, joe lieberman has been blocking health reform personally. saying he will block it, unless he gets everything he wants in the bill. he did not always feel this way about the filibuster. >> and it also fuzzes up the whole question of accountability. if the majority is held accountable for producing, if the minority makes it impossible
for the majority to produce, you need 51 votes to pass a bill. how is the public going to fairly hold the majority accountable? >> joe lieberman's once upon a time principled argument taking more than 51 votes to pass a bill. against what joe lieberman is doing right now to kill health reform. more to come. robitussin®. if you're using other moisturizing body washes, you might as well be. you see, their moisturizer sits on top of skin, almost as if you're wearing it. only new dove deep moisture has nutriummoisture, a breakthrough formula with natural moisturizers... that can nourish deep down. it's the most effective natural nourishment ever.
>> that is independent senator joseph lieberman of connecticut. enunciating his use of the filibuster this year, this year, 2009. joe lieberman loves to filibuster. he calls it the power i have as a single senator. it's almost romantic. once upon a time, senator lieberman, hated the filibuster, he hated it so much, that he actually cosponsored anti-filibuster legislation with senator tom harkin of iowa. they tried to kill the filibuster, according to the hartford current's reporting on january 6th, 1995, the filibuster, lieberman said hurts the credibility of the entire senate and impedes progress, he spoke of the tyranny of the minority. senator lieberman decried the vote against it.
>> the filibuster as wrong as it is, and unfortunate as its consequences have been because it's created gridlock, has increased the power of every individual senator, and senators are not too good at yielding individual power. >> this is the same senator who now waxes poetic about using his power as a single senator to kill health reform. then waxing poetic about greedy senators being unwielding to yield their individual authority. after his and tom harkin's proposal to kill filibuster failed, he vowed to keep fighting to kill it. >> so we've laid down our mark here. we've made a first charge at the fortress of the status quo in the senate. we didn't break through, but we're going to keep charging. >> going to keep charging. he's going to keep charging until he stops and then starts charging in the opposite direction.
but while joe lieberman may have spectacularly abandoned the charge against the abuse of the filibuster, the abuse of the power of one senator to bring the nation to its knees, senator harkin, his one-time partner on this issue, has not given it up. harkin telling "the iowa hawkeye" newspaper that he may revisit the kill the filibuster effort he took up 14 years ago with his old pal, joe. and lieberman's role in this second anti-filibuster push will be as the nation's walking, talking, filibuster-threatening evidence of what it looks like when a single senator decides to take this power to extremes. joining us now is steve bennett, who writes for washington monthly. thanks very much for coming on the show. good to see you. >> good to see you. thanks for having me. >> when senators lieberman and harkin tried to get rid of the filibuster, the 60-vote rule 14 years ago, it failed really badly. it only got 19 votes. if harkin brings this back, is there any chance that it would do better now?
>> well, it's a long haul it's an uphill climb. to pass a bill takes 51 votes, to overcome a filibuster takes 60 votes, to change the senate rules takes 67 votes. if harkin reintroduces the measure, it's going to be pretty difficult. that said, i think it's going to get more than 19 votes. when it was first introduced in 1995, there were 9 cloture votes that year. last year there were 139. so what we're seeing is an explosion in terms of the abuse of the process. so what that in mind, i think it's safe to assume that there'll be a slightly stronger appetite among a lot of senators to end this abuse. but it's still going to be difficult. in part because both parties have an interest in keeping it around. every senator can imagine the situation in which they're in the minority and the majorities are fleeting. so i think that even in the democratic caucus, there's going to be a lot of people who want to keep it around because they want to be able to filibuster when they're in the minority again at some point in the future. so that dynamic creates a
situation in which it's going to be pretty tough to get harkin's bill passed, but i'm glad he's pushing it anyway, because it's a worthwhile effort. >> that argument that everyone wants to keep it around because they might want to use it some day made sense when there were 39 filibusters a year. but now that there is a standing filibuster on every piece of major legislation, as you say, when you've got from 39 filibusters a year to 139, where, essentially, we've got a de facto 60-vote margin for passing anything in the senate, it seems to me like the old bets of us wanting to reserve this power to use it when we need it are sort of off. how did we get to a place where it's being used so much more frequently? did they change a rule about it? how did it become so easy to filibuster everything now? >> it's one of the biggest frustrations, for those of us watching this debate closely. it happened completely naturally. it was a very organic process. the rules didn't necessarily change, although at one point in the past, they lowered the number necessary for the filibuster. but in general, we're looking at a situation in which it just
kind of happened. senators would occasionally filibuster in extreme circumstances, but as of, say, the last congress, the number just exploded. we broke a record. the number of filibusters are coming in at unprecedented pace. they broke the record in the last congress. they're on track to break their own record, and referring to the republican minority, break their own record again in this congress. and i think that one of the problems that we have is the political establishment thinks that this is normal. that the senate just operates this way. it doesn't. for 200 years, it didn't operate this way. if a majority of senators wanted to pass a bill, they passed a bill. that has changed slowly and surely. and i think that that's something that's gone largely overlooked as part of the larger debate. >> steve, if they are not able to kill the filibuster, if they are not able to get, as you say, 67 votes to change the senate rules, what else could the democratic leadership in the senate do to pass health reform, for example, to overcome this 60-vote supermajority that has suddenly become the norm. one option is, i know,
reconciliation, but that really does limit them in terms of what types of legislation they're able to pass under that. >> right. i think, in general, there are two broad approaches to this. one is the reconciliation approach, in which you mentioned and which senator wyden reflected upon earlier. there's a time line on when those bills expire and have to be reauthorized. the other aspect of this is public pressure. people have to be aware of the fact that one of the reasons there's so much gridlock and one of the reasons bills are having so much trouble getting passed these days is because of the filibuster. if a bill comes up in the senate and has 58 supporters and 42 opponents, it dies. the 42 trumps the 58. i think if americans, in general, were more aware of this, they would be more likely to be outraged. and the reasons we don't feel justified in being able to have these constant filibusters on
literally everything, is they feel there are no electoral consequences for their obstructionism. i think one of the things senate democrats would be wise to do is shine a light on this and explain to the public, one of the reasons people are frustrated with congress not being able to get somethings done is because of these filibusters. and if there's more public backlash and a sense that there'll be electoral consequences for this, republicans might be less likely to do it. >> thank you for joining us, steve. appreciate it. the giant informational black hole that was the bush administration got a little brighter today as heroic i.t. geeks recovered 22 million lost bush administration e-mails. control "z," control "z," undo, delete. announcer: cialis asks, when is it time
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perhaps the single most convenient governmental failure of the last presidential administration was the administration's failure to keep track of its own records. we were supposed to keep track of records? i'm sorry, i have no record of that. although two clear-as-day federal laws require the white house to preserve its records, the bush administration said that it just plum lost tens of millions of e-mails that were generated by administration officials and that were supposed to be kept. it always felt like a giant "dog ate my homework" excuse, but if the bush administration wanted its e-mails to be permanently lost, the bad news for them is that dogs can't permanently eat homework that's done on a computer in most cases. nothing's ever really, really,
really lost anymore. and now bush administration e-mails from march 2003 to october 2005 have been restored. 22 million of them, or so. they were found thanks to the obama administration's settling a lawsuit filed by c.r.e.w., citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington and the national security archive, which is a private nonprofit organization. all 22 million e-mails don't get released to the public immediately. they go to the national archives and record administration for archiving and all the normal stuff that happens to white house records, but can only happen if everyone agrees that those white house records exist. i will save you the back of the envelope math right now, march of 2003 to october 2005, that covers u.s. invasion of iraq, valerie plame leak cover-up, the federal response to hurricane katrina and much, much more. joining us now is meredith
foouks, one of the two groups that sued the government. thanks very much for joining us tonight. nice of you to come in. >> thanks for having me. >> do we know if the e-mails were deliberately deleted, just lost, misfiled? what happened to them? >> a little bit of everything. although i have to say we haven't found clear evidence of malfeasance, but there are a lot of decisions that make you wonder. for example, what happened to the e-mails? they were actually, never really archived. they were manually shifted into files which were then mislabeled and essentially lost. somewhere present in the white house servers, but no one could find them. so that accounts for 22 million. in addition to that, we think some e-mails were actually missing from the system entirely. so the white house has agreed to do some restorations, 33 days. previously, the bush administration restored 21 days as well. all told, we'll end up getting 94 days restored in addition to the 22 million that were found. >> so the 33 days that the obama administration has agreed to restore, these are specific dates on which you have suspiciously few e-mails on
record? >> that's correct. we looked at all the data that the bush administration and the obama administration have and we identified, the plaintiffs identified days that we thought the e-mails were suspiciously low. and we looked at what was happening in the world at the time and we tried to pick days where there might be important e-mails. >> now, in looking at your resources on this, the information that you put out, because these 22 million have been released, i was struck by this issue around the vice president's e-mails. the obama administration has agreed to try to recover records including those from the office of dick cheney, which i guess a court had ruled you couldn't sue to get? can you explain that? >> well, basically, when the valerie plame investigation took place, there were subpoenas issued to the white house. and they went to look at the ovp's white house e-mail and they couldn't find them. there was nothing available. and they had to do this difficult restoration, restarting the individual accounts for each person in the office of the vice president.
they found some e-mails. but we don't know if those were complete. so the obama administration has agreed to restore additional e-mails from those days to try to make that record complete. >> senate judiciary chairman pat leahy has issued a statement on this. he said the senate judiciary committee never accepted the bush administration's conclusions that millions of its e-mails were lost. he said, this was another example of the bush administration's reflexive resistance to congressional oversight and the public's right to know. because the archiving of e-mails is a little bit of an esoteric issue, even for us that are familiar with how to archive e-mails, is there a way to contextualize how big a deal this was that they didn't archive these e-mails? i understand that previous administrations have had trouble with this same issue. >> my organization sued the reagan administration within bush 41, and the clinton
administration. there was clear case law that said every e-mail in the white house should be saved. and the clinton administration put in an e-mail archiving system. so the fact that the bush administration decided to disconnect that e-mail archiving system and didn't put something else in place was a serious oversight. >> the day after president obama was sworn in, i know the justice department filed a motion to dismiss your lawsuit, this lawsuit that's just resulted in these 22 million e-mails being made available. was that the obama administration upholding the bush-era stance? who filed that motion to dismiss your lawsuit? do you understand what was going on there yet? >> well, we were disappointed on january 21st to get that motion, but it had been in the works already and originally was supposed to be filed before that weekend, but they didn't get it filed until after the inauguration. but fortunately, we were able to talk to them and work it and they ultimately withdrew their motion to dismiss and that led to the settlement of this case. >> this is one of these things, where it's like, wow, this is really fascinating.
and the next things that are going to happen will be even more fascinating. complicated stuff, but really interesting and good to have your help sorting it out. meredith fuchs is the general counterfor the national security archive. in north carolina, an atheist can run for office and even get elected. but can an atheist be sworn in and actually serve the public as a public official? and can you believe we have to even ask this question in 2009 in the united states of america? yeah! and as nature videos go, we have unearthed the second or maybe third best one of all time. it involves an octopus and a coconut and no special effects. stay tuned. will never be the sa. will never be the sa. but there is a light beginning to shine again. the spark began where it always begins. at a restaurant downtown. in a shop on main street. a factory around the corner. entrepreneurs like these are the most powerful force in the economy. they drive change and they'll relentless push their businesses
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nothing's more real than reddi-wip. still ahead, residents of one city try to push a city councilman out of office because he does not believe in god. and the state law is on their side. a preemptive war against a potential war against christmas, maybe. and president obama blew off some steam at fat cat bankers today. kent jones has an outlet for the rest of us to do the same. first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today's news. the difference between britain and the u.s. extends far beyond the royal family, universal
access to health care, and the pronunciation of words like "tomato," "aluminum," and "herbs." take, for example, public opinion in our two nations of the people responsible for the iraq war. in a new interview, former prime minister tony blair admitted to the bbc that he would have advocated war against iraq, even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction there. >> if you had known then that there were no wmds, would you still have gone on? >> i would still have thought it right to remove them. i mean, obviously, you would have had to use and deployed different arguments about the nature of the threat. but i find it quite odd, because i spend so much time out there now, and they're about to have an election which will be probably the single most significant thing that's happened in that region for many years. >> in america, former bush administration officials have made pretty much the same argument. that even though there were no
weapons of mass destruction, the war was still, somehow, justified. >> the minute we found out they didn't have weapons of mass destruction, i was the first to say so. my decision to remove saddam hussein was the correct decision. >> this was a bad actor. and the country's better off -- or the world's better off with saddam gone. >> i would have liberated baghdad a hundred times over. i think it was the right decision. >> in britain now, for making the same argument, there's a very new round of calls for tony blair to be prosecuted as a war criminal. tony blair got called a sycophant by a former prosecutions chief in the uk. the former defense secretary there reacted to the former prime minister's comments by saying he would have only supported the war if there were actual weapons of mass destruction. this all happening against the backdrop of an ongoing aggressive iraq war inquiry impanelled by the current prime minister.
in england, the bush administration's run of the mill defense of the war bridges calls for prosecution. next up, the secret religious group known as the family is most known in u.s. politics for operating the "c" street house connected to three political sex scandals this year. but the family's reach extends well beyond washington and even well beyond the united states. as documented in jeff sharlet's book-length expose of the family, the group also recruits and cultivates powerful people in other countries as force-magnifying influence extenders for the network of americans within the family and spread the group's controversial theology of power, which you wouldn't recognize in any mainstream american christian church. trust me. the family's main outpost in africa has long been the nation of uganda, where the country's
president for life, museveni, is said to be a member of the family. legislation this year would sentence people to life imprisonment or even to death for the crime of being gay. since we have been coverering the story, a number of american members of the family have decided to issue statements opposing the proposed law. they include iowa senator chuck grassley, oklahoma senators james inhofe and tom coburn and congressman joe pitts and bart stupak. american megachurch pastor joe warren also condemned the legislation last week after initially saying he wouldn't. then late on friday, the white house issued a statement against the legislation, saying, quote, the president strongly opposes efforts such as the draft law pending in uganda that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history. we got a bit further today with the spokesman for the national security council, who added this. "at this point, we've expressed our concerns at the highest levels of the ugandan government and we continue to raise our concerns in our ongoing dialogue
with our ugandan counterparts." the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, senator john kerry, also weighed in this afternoon with his own statement condemning the proposed law. what's the result of this flurry of american objections to the "kill the gays" bill in this other country? it remains to be seen. the sunday observer newspaper in britain reporting that the bill has been presented to parliament in uganda. that it is expected to be debated within two weeks and that it is expected to become law by february. contrary to earlier hopes, the death penalty has not been removed from this proposed legislation. the legislator who introduced the bill, telling reporters, "we are not going to yield to any international pressure." we, of course, will stay on this story, since it keeps not going away. one way we'll be able to stay on this story is if people keep asking people in power about it. blogger mike starks of starksreport.com this weekend caught up with three conservative senators who are members of the family to ask them about the bill. senator inhofe reiterated to
mike his opposition to the bill, but mr. stark was also able to get on the record two more family senators who had not previously commented on it. and one of them was probably just happy to have someone ask him anything at all about anything other than the fallout from his own big embarrassing sex scandal. >> you know, even if you disagree with, you know, with the way that somebody lives, okay, you don't -- i mean, to do what uganda is doing, i think that, you know, most reasonable people would agree that that's pretty outrageous to do what they're doing. >> there's a story being reported, rachel maddow is all over it, about uganda. uganda -- >> you know, i saw a piece of that on her show when i was working out last night, but i haven't followed it. i don't -- i know she's covering it, but i don't know what it is. >> there's legislation before their parliament that would criminalize homosexuality.
it started out, the penalty was up to and including the death penalty. do you think it's appropriate to criminalize homosexual conduct anymore? >> i can't -- i don't know the specifics of the bill. i've learned you need to know what's actually -- >> just in general terms? >> well, i'm not going to abstract on something. >> all right. well, thanks, senator. >> senator brownback will not comment on the bill, or even on the general idea of the death penalty for gay people. now we know. but now we also know that senator brownback watches the show while he works out. hi, senator brownback, you look great. now that i know you're here, i feel like we have so much to talk about. hear that? seals it tight. smells like fresh ground. fresh fresh fresh fre-- that's our favorite part. ...fresh! (announcer) taste why maxwell house is good to the last drop.
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and will you faithfully discharge the duties of your office as mayor of the city of asheville, so help you god? >> i will. >> and will you faithfully discharge the duties of your office as a council member of the city of asheville, is that your solemn affirmation? >> it is. >> your solemn affirmation, that's what you can say instead of "so help me god," if you're swearing to do something, but the fear of needing god's help if you blow it, "so help me
god," doesn't apply to you. if you don't believe in god, you can give your solemn affirmation instead of saying "so help me god." last week, the fact that one councilman was sworn in with a solemn affirmation so enraged his critics that they are now threatening to try to remove him from office because he's an atheist. which is remarkable enough that any american would call someone else unfit for public office purely on the basis of their faith or lack thereof. what's all the more remarkable about this case is that the critics of asheville, north carolina, cecil bothwell, they sort of have a point. article vi of the north carolina constitution includes a list of things that disqualify a person from public office in the state. things like being convicted of treason, having committed a felony, being impeached from
some other office. and, then, it says, right there in article vi, section viii, the following persons shall be disqualified from office. it turns out there are six other states that have similar provisions in their constitutions, mandating that office holders have a belief in a supreme being. maybe you live in one of these states, arkansas, maryland, tennessee, mississippi and north carolina, all make it illegal to hold public office while being an atheist. despite the fact that another article six in another constitution quite famously says that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust in the united states. there's also the handy supremecy clause, when there's a conflict between the state constitution and the u.s. constitution, the u.s. constitution wins. that's the whole united part in
the united united states. still though back in asheville u north carolina, a local editor and southern heritage activist say that the north carolina atheist ban should be enough to force cecil from his seat on city council. he has the u.s. constitution and the whole american idea of religious liberty on his side. the question is how a state is allowed to be officially in writing on the other side. joining us now is katie parker, a legal director for the aclu and spoke with him earlier today. thank you very much for joining us. >> glad to be here. >> did i get the details of the right. the ban is in the constitution even though it's obviously against the u.s. constitution? >> that's correct. it is. >> did you get a sense of whether a councilman was
concerned about maybe losing his seat because of what is in the constitution? >> i didn't get a sense that he was concerned for several reasons. the city attorney's office in nashville, there smart people and they know the law. they understand what you described. the supremacy clause reigned supreme here and the united states constitution as you mentioned, article six of the constitution provides that you can't have this type of religious test owed. it's none of anyone's business whether you are religious or not to hold public office. >> the fact remains that it's on the books in the state constitution and when i looked at even a headline level case law, it seemed like a big word. even though what you just explained seems clear to me in the supremacy clause in the u.s.
constitution seems to settle this legally, i'm worried about it being the constitution. i'm worried that that may mean he is caught up in a legal battle for a long time and not serve as a country. >> it is a concern, rachel and you would be amazed at home things are on the books in north carolina and around the country that are blatantly unconstitution like this north carolina provision. it is a concern that it might be caught up in litigation. we would think that the courts would see it as the supreme court has said as many courts have said this is a pretty easy one. it's clear that it is unconstitutional to the first amendment and article six of the united states constitution. we would hope that the city would have to be tied up in litigation on this matter. you are right.
it's possible. >> politically speak beating up on atheists is politically popular. they are a group that take a lot of abuse politically. do you think that this type of law and the fact that it is still in the state constitution poses a risk to people of minority faiths and different faiths who do believe in god? >> it does, rachel. that's one of the things that is interesting. in the 1961 supreme court case on this matter, they stressed it's not just the groups of people who should be concerned. religious people ought to be concerned as well. it's a private matter. your religion. you have to be able to compel you to take a religious oath. it's a violation of privacy for people who are religious and nonreligious. >> katie parker is the legal director for the aclu for north carolina bringing the separation of church and state in.
>> bill o'reilly is accusing law and order creator of defamation. keith's amazing response to that on countdown. >> it helps your biceps. kent jones introduce us to the perfect physical stress release for the economically challenging times. up next, stay with us. we need lower costs, choice and real competition. but the insurance dustry ispending millions t stop reform and protect their profits. remember, if the insurance companies win, we lose. tell congress we need od health care we can afford with the choice of a public health insurance option now.
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well, when he feels the instacool sensation, he'll know that pepto's about to kick in. oh, ah-ha. honey, do you feel... the instacool sensation -- yes, mom. thank you, mrs. wagner. you're welcome, sweetheart. [ pepto guy ] have a great date, everybody. [ male announcer ] new pepto-bismol chewables with instacool. yup, you're covered. we turn now to our games as metaphors correspondent kent jones. hi, kent. >> hi, rachel. president obama was meeting with the leaders of the big banks this morning, a new arcade game was sending a different message to financial bigwigs, namely, duck.
♪ >> reporter: for pure lizard brain satisfaction, you can't beat whack-a-mole. that's the classicic game where moles pop up out of their holes and you score points by beating their grinning heads with a mallet. you want some of this? here's one for your little friend. it doesn't get better than that. unless it's whack-a-banker. he tapped into people's untapped hostility. object, whack as many little banker noggins as possible in 30 seconds. cover your assets, if you lose, the bankers put the experience behind them and return to business as usual. if you win, the bankers retire and thank you for funding their pension. too big to fail? not any more. the inventor said the game was proving very popular, saying, "i keep having to replace worn out mallets." how's that for an economic indicator? president obama, if you need a
reminder of what your relationship to wall street should look like, here you go. hey, fat cat, i got your year-end bonus right here. [ laughter ] >> thank you, kent. cocktail moment for you, i'm very excited. best thing since a parrot tried to mate with the british guy's neck. if you haven't seen that one, google it. you won't be disappointed. this is about octopus. we used to believe they couldn't use tools, until a team of scientists captured this on tape. over the course of almost a decade, researchers filmed octopi off the course of indonesia, they saw an octopus gathering discarded coconut shells in order to hide in it. they dig did out of the mud and flip it over and wrap its arms around and stand up and scurry away on tiptoes. # just absolutely amazing, they hide in them so they don't get
eaten. my favorite cocktail moment in a long time. thanks, ken. "hardball" is next. good night. >> let's play "hardball." good evening. leading off tonight, the l word. lieberman. it wasn't enough for joe lieberman to say no on the public option and now this independent democrat from connecticut who caucuses with the democratic party decided he can't back the medicare by the compromise that was worked out next week. this raised the question is he interested in torturing liberals? he used to say that liberacy is
laughing all the way to the bank. fat cats he called them last night on 60 minutes. he said it's time for wall street and main street can share in wall street's recovery. will they get the bankers to act? that's the big question. in the interview with oprah, he gave himself a b plus for his presidency so far. we have a couple of "hardball" regulars who will wee will ask to grade obama and his presidency. almost a year now. when hillary clinton gave a speech on the administration's approach to human rights, is the relationship or the political marriage between mrs. clinton and president obama working out? did the president make the right choice and is this good for the obamas and the clintons? wait until you catch the reaction from 60 minutes when somebody he was not asked about something he clearly didn't want to talk about. a rare time when the camera ke